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The year might be coming to an end, but plenty of design trends are still beginning to emerge. It’ll be interesting to see how many of these website design elements remain popular into the new year. From vintage elements to circles to happier feelings, there’s a lot to play with here.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month…

Old-School Print Inspired

Vintage design elements seem to circle back in new iterations at a pretty frequent pace. This time website designers are finding inspiration from old-school print design.

These projects mimic the look of old newspapers and magazines with styles that look like news or advertising content. One of the most exciting takeaways might be color, with beige backgrounds that almost seem like aged paper.

Note the font choices, scale, and imagery as well. All of these things have an old-school feel that’s modern enough to help encourage interaction.

Each of these designs keeps visitors engaged with trendy effects that pair with the vintage aesthetic so that while there’s an old-school look, the overall design is modern and fresh.

The portfolio of Niccolo Miranda feels like a “WAR” day on the front page of a major newspaper, but with modern touches – computer illustrations, animated images, and button-style icons.

Enfant Sauvage Music takes on the feel of an old-style newspaper or magazine ad with a single color design and grainy imagery. An oversized funky pointer on hover and side navigation keeps the design interesting.

Kalso uses a giant timeline with typography and effects that mimic the era on the screen. Animation and motion keep the design with the times and on-trend.

Center-Screen Circles

Circles seem to be a website design trend that just never goes out of style – it only evolves.

The newest iteration includes center-screen circles. And you can use them in all kinds of different ways. The nice thing about a circle is the shape is innately harmonious and can pull a design together and make everything feel together and unified.

They can be an excellent container for text or other elements or serve as a button.

Circles work with almost any overall design pattern, in any color, and with virtually any type of image or video. The shape is practically perfect! (That’s why it’s a trend that never really gets old.)

Each of these examples uses a center-screen circle in a slightly different way.

Aflote uses a center circle as part of its overall branding effort and to help draw the eye from the split-screen images to the center arrow, encouraging users to scroll to the next bit of content. Color helps here, and the circle is a container for brand and some other content with a nice layer on top of the images.

One Ocean Science uses one of the oldest circles we know – the globe – as a dominant art element that rotates in the center of the screen. The layer on top – the exact text in multiple languages – gets extra attention thanks to the center placement. The design also uses a top left corner circle for branding and a bottom right corner circle as a CTA, helping create a visual flow through the design from top to center to bottom to click.

To Be Love uses a fantastic animated set of concentric circles to pull together the name of the event and draw interest to the CTAs. The circle is just the right size in a sea of black sky to draw the eye to the content in the middle of the screen.

Lighter, Happier Designs

After a couple of years of pandemic life and a world that’s just been a little less than cheery, website designers include lighter, happier elements to projects. This might just be the design trend we all need right now.

This effect can be designed in several ways, including color, imagery, animation, scale, and even typography. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a design lighter and happier until you see it, but when you do, you’ll know it. (It might just be that little grin at the corner of your mouth when you see it.)

Meanpug uses fun, animated illustrations as a load screen with a full-text homepage (you’ll have to click through to see it). Between color and animation, you can’t help but feel good looking at the design. What might be most interesting is that the website is for a marketing agency that works with law firms. (Probably not what you expected at all.)

Happy smiling faces are hard not to feel good about. Even the devil emoji seems somewhat joyful. Add in big, bold typography and the yellow smiley, and the world just feels a little less dark.

Oatly uses lots of small elements in a cartoon-style aesthetic that is light and interesting. In addition to fun fonts and animation, all of the words on the website also contribute to a feeling of ease and happiness. It’s a solid strategy for sales; make people feel good about what they are thinking of buying to help propel them toward a purchase.

 

Conclusion

One of the most exciting things that we’ve seen with design trends in the past year is how world events – from the pandemic to isolation to working remotely – have impacted design projects as a whole.

We’ve seen fewer faces, more illustrations and typography, and an overall shift in feeling to some of the lighter, happier design elements featured here. Cheers to 2022!

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With the holidays fast approaching, there are plenty of fun gifts for you in this roundup of new tools and resources for web designers. Make sure to share anything you find helpful with others to spread additional holiday cheer.

Here’s what is new for designers this month…

Volley

Volley, billing itself as Snapchat for work, is a new way to collaborate with remote teams. The tool addresses the two main problems of remote teams (lack of communication and loneliness) with an async video messaging app with interactive transcriptions neatly organized into workspaces. Volley emphasizes talking over typing (76% of volleys sent are video), doesn’t require you to coordinate schedules (it’s 100% asynchronous), and lives in a threaded conversation with context that’s neatly organized. Plus, the tool is free to use.

Upnext

Upnext is a new type of reading list. It’s designed to help you save, organize, and focus on fantastic content while expanding your knowledge on your favorite topics. You can create playlists with almost any type of content that you can refer to later and follow “thinkers” that you love. Search and filter content, focus on reading, integrate videos, and even highlight and note specific content in your customized library. This brand-new web app has a waitlist that you can join to get access soon.

Startup 5

Startup 5 is a new version of the popular website builder, and it’s a perfect tool to create your online presence. With Startup, it’s fast and easy to get your business online with pre-designed blocks. It includes a visual editor with 150+ blocks with pre-designed and pre-coded elements and styles you can easily customize in a drag and drop interface. It’s an easy tool for building a website quickly without a coding background. Most users can publish a website quickly and easily.

Flatmap

Flatmap generates Mapbox Vector Tiles from geographic data sources like OpenStreetMap. It is memory-efficient so that you can build a map of the world in a few hours on a single machine without any external tools or database. Vector tiles contain raw point, line, and polygon geometries that clients like MapLibre can use to render custom maps in the browser, native apps, or a server. Flatmap packages tiles into an MBTiles (SQLite) file that can be served using tools like TileServer GL or even queried directly from the browser.

Cleanup.Pictures

Cleanup.Pictures is a web-based tool to remove objects, people, text, or other defects from your images before using them in projects. It’s an AI-based alternative to other photo-editing software.

Linkz.ai

Linkz.ai helps you make smart link preview popups for your website to help encourage greater engagement and interaction for links. It works with a line of code you can install quickly and easily, and then you get smart link previews (in two style options) for every link on your site.

Llline

Llline is an SVG generator that helps you create smooth and organic lines and strokes with plenty of customization options for almost any application. This tool helps create graphic elements in just a few clicks, allowing you to add a few points to a canvas and then draw a smooth curve using these points. You can then tweak the resulting SVG graphic by rotating it, changing its color, giving it a gradient, making it a dashed line, and then you can download or copy the SVG markup.

Lorem.Space

Lorem.Space is a valuable placeholder image tool. With just a little bit of code, you can pop cool placeholder images – from movie posters to shoes – right in your website mockup so that the design is easier to visualize. It’s a great solution that’s fun and keeps you from having to put empty boxes throughout the design. And everything can be randomized, so you don’t spend time looking for placeholders.

Huetone

Huetone can help you create more accessible color palettes by making use of the Advanced Perceptual Contrast Algorithm. The contrast ratios and color combinations show on one screen to help you quickly develop palettes and combinations. Plus, the tool has hotkeys that make it easy to change hues, toggle, and adjust quickly. Then you can export everything to Figma.

Rowy

Rowy is an open-source tool to build on the Google Cloud Platform. You can manage Firestore data in a spreadsheet-style user interface, write Cloud Functions in the browser, and connect to third-party platforms.

AdCreative.ai

AdCreative.ai uses artificial intelligence to help create better ad creative. To get started, you upload logos and color files, connect social and other accounts, pick the sizes you need, write text, pick a background, and upload product images, and let the AI do the work. Once you have the creative you like, you can connect to your online ad accounts for easy use. This is a premium tool that’s free to try.

Flowrift

Flowrift is a tool to browse and then copy and customize Tailwind CSS blocks in groups of collections. Filter by block type and then experiment with the options. It even has e-commerce blocks.

Layout Patterns

Layout Patterns is a collection of layout patterns built using modern CSS APIs to help you build common interfaces such as cards, dynamic grid areas, and full-page layouts.

You.com

You.com is a new private search engine that summarizes the web. The tool is in open beta and includes superior privacy choices, actionable results, extensible apps, and personalization through preferred sources.

3D Icons

3D Icons is a fun set of three-dimensional, full-color icons that are free for all uses. (Donations are accepted.) They integrate with pretty much any web design tool you are using and come in four color styles – clay, gradient, color, and premium – so you can get just the right look for your project. Each icon also includes three rendering views – dynamic, side, and isometric.

Arco Design

Arco Design is a comprehensive React UI components library based on the Arco Design system. It includes a customizable theme and more than 60 crafted components that you can use out of the box.

Seekvectors.com

Seekvectors.com is a search tool to find free resources in five different formats, PNG, SVG, JPG, EPS, and AI.

Outline to Single Stroke

Outline to Single Stroke is a tool in the Figma community that works just like the name implies. Select a filled vector on the canvas, and then you can outline it to a single stroke and adjust the line weight if you like.

Codeamigo

Codeamigo is a new self-paced platform to help you learn coding skills. It’s packed with various lessons for different languages and templates and has something for every level from beginner to advanced.

Sizze

Sizze is a Figma to React Native export tool to create app prototypes and instantly export to code.

CodingFont

CodingFont is an excellent game that can help you pick a font to use for coding that you like! If you spend a lot of time looking at code each day, the right font can help reduce eye strain and make the work a little easier to see.

Christmas Revue

Christmas Revue is the first in a trio of holiday typefaces that you can use this season. This SCG color font is fun and perfect for the holidays with exciting glyphs. It is free for personal use only.

Hotsnow

Hotsnow is a fun display font that has interesting fills and shapes in an all-caps character set. It is free for personal use.

Marlwich

Marlwich is a feminine handwriting-style typeface that has the feel of signing a holiday letter or card. It contains upper- and lower-case characters and is only for non-commercial use for free. (A paid option is available for commercial projects.)

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Every day design fans submit incredible industry stories to our sister-site, Webdesigner News. Our colleagues sift through it, selecting the very best stories from the design, UX, tech, and development worlds and posting them live on the site.

The best way to keep up with the most important stories for web professionals is to subscribe to Webdesigner News or check out the site regularly. However, in case you missed a day this week, here’s a handy compilation of the top curated stories from the last seven days. Enjoy!

10 Free Christmas SVG Packs

5 Exciting Web Design Trends for 2022

22 Inspiring Web Design Trends for 2022

Microsoft’s Wild New Mouse Design is Both Brilliant and Bizarre

Codify Images – Decompose any Image with Some Letters

Everything I Hate About Material You

How I Made Google’s Data Grid Scroll 10x Faster with One Line of CSS

Automating Figma

What the H*** is ‘Right-Clicker Mentality’?

8 Critical Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

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The post Popular Design News of the Week: November 8, 2021 – November 14, 2021 first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.

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Many websites today use some type of traditional Content Delivery Network (CDN), which means improvements in website load times, decreases in bandwidth, and better redundancy and security. But not everything is optimized, specifically when it comes to images, and image CDNs can help with that! 

Traditional vs. Image CDNs

A traditional CDN treats images as static. If you want to tailor images to better match various mobile device types, then you need to create many variants of each image and upload them to your web server. It also means you must develop responsive code that will tell the server and CDN which image variant to deliver. This is clunky, time-consuming, and inefficient. For a large website, the amount of code needed can be astronomical. Using this static image model, there’s just no realistic way for each image to be effectively sized and compressed for every possible device model – at this point, there are thousands of them. The combination of these two unfortunate factors leads to potentially slow load times and poor UX caused by oversized images delivered to mobile devices.

So what is an image CDN? An image CDN builds on the traditional CDN model with the addition of device detection and image optimization. Instant detection of the device model and browser requesting the images is done right at the device-aware edge server (true edge computing!) Additional information, including screen resolution and dimension, pixels per inch, and support for next-gen image formats (such as WebP, JPEG 2000/JP2, and AVIF), provides even more details crucial for superior image optimization. Using this information derived from device-aware edge servers, the image CDN optimizes each image and serves the perfect version for each device and resolution, meaning users get the finest webpage experience faster.

A Bit About the Edge (Whoa, Living on the Edge?)

With a single server website, a web request would have to travel from the requestor, back to the origin server (wherever that was geographically located), be processed, and then travel back to the requestor. Depending on the physical distance between the requestor and the origin server, this could introduce a great deal of latency, which means lag time on page loads. 

A traditional content delivery network (CDN) is a global network of servers that optimizes web performance by using the node geographically closest to the user for faster delivery of assets. It takes static content like images and stores them on the edge. But usually, these edge servers are relatively simple in terms of their role in business processes. They mostly index, cache, and deliver content. And traditional CDNs like to keep edge servers simple because of concerns over CPU usage, storage, and scalability.

But what if these edge servers could also provide computing power that enhances performance and business processes? This is called edge computing. Slowly, CDNs are starting to open their edge servers to allow enterprises to deploy apps/services on the edge. Likewise, Cloud computing networks (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) provide virtualized server capacity around the world for those who want to use geographically distributed servers. In a sense, Edge Computing is a marriage of the CDN (where edge servers synchronize/work with each other) and Cloud computing (where servers are open to applications). 

Edge computing is a fascinating concept, but what is the killer app that will enhance business processes and improve website performance? The addition of device detection to edge computing provides the ability to transform from delivery of static images to a new model where images are dynamic and tailored exactly to devices. 

Edge computing is computing that is done in a geographically distributed space, with many servers located at or near the source of the web request. This reduction in bandwidth and latency leads to fast processing times, increased site speed, and improved customer experience. And edge computing doesn’t require new infrastructure — it leverages the networks of existing providers to create Points of Presence (POP) around the globe. 

The Edge Servers are…Aware?

Device-aware edge servers, like those used by the ImageEngine image CDN, take edge computing to a new level. Device detection is actually one of the use cases where edge computing really shines. Normally, the edge server would have to send a Javascript query to the device to figure out any information about a requesting device’s model, browser, operating system. But with a device-aware edge server, the User Agent string is captured and decoded. This contains all of the information necessary for device detection without the need for any back and forth – a definite speed improvement. So you’re starting ahead of the game! 

Each time a new request comes to the device-aware edge server, the image is processed by that server (meaning optimized for that specific device parameters) and stored right there in cache, primed for future use. This is done in three stages: changing image size based on device resolution, compressing the image using an image optimization tool, and selecting the most efficient file format for the device. 

If the device-aware edge server has already processed a request from a similar device model before, then it can serve the device-optimized image from its edge cache, leading to a lightning-fast server response — and ImageEngine’s device-aware edge servers can serve up cached images 98% of the time! Not only is there geographical proximity because of the distributed global POP network, but the smaller size of the optimized image compared to the full-sized original cuts up to 80% off the image payload. This can cut up to several seconds off page load times. When almost 70% of people say that page speed influences their likelihood of making a purchase, every single second counts! 

Some image CDNs detect the device information and group the devices into “buckets” of similar types and serve an image based on that type. While this is certainly an advancement over a traditional CDN, and works passably well for some common devices, it still isn’t a truly optimal solution. There are so many variants of browser, screen size,  resolution, etc., even among very similar devices, that images are still often oversized (too large payloads) and lead to poor load speed. A true image CDN, such as ImageEngine, serves the perfect image for every device, every time.

So Now You Want To Get Started (Don’t Worry, It’s Really Simple)

One of the best things about the ImageEngine image CDN is the ease of integration – and it can integrate into any platform that supports a 3rd-party CDN. All you need is to sign up for an account and receive a delivery address during your two (yes, 2!) minute signup process. This delivery address is used to redirect image traffic for optimization and superior delivery performance. Next, you’ll have to make some slight adjustments to img tags on your website, but that’s really all the work you’ll need to do. There are no DNS changes during a standard (generic delivery address) integration. You read that right, none at all. Contrast that to a traditional CDN integration, where there is just no way around some messing around in the DNS – in fact, usually some fairly extensive DNS changes. 

This low-code, virtually no code, integration saves you time. It saves you money. It saves you the hassle of putting multiple team members on a new project. And it means that you can be up and running in about 15 minutes with a standard install. You can be serving optimized images to your site visitors at blazing fast speeds before lunch! And don’t worry, ImageEngine has an experienced integration support team available to answer any questions you might have. 

There’s also no issue with adding the ImageEngine image CDN on top of an existing CDN. Traditional CDNs may have security features that you may prefer to keep for your site. It requires slightly more integration but provides the same benefits of a solo ImageEngine implementation — screaming fast image load times and perfectly optimized images from device-aware edge servers. All that is recommended is that the ImageEngine image CDN actually serve the images directly, not simply process them, to get maximum benefits.

Adopt an Image CDN and See The Benefits

We’ve learned that image CDNs bring numerous benefits to your site AND your business. Using device-aware edge servers, image CDNs provide measurably better UX to your visitors. Pages load potentially seconds faster with perfectly optimized images, meaning your customers get to the heart of your message right away, and you don’t lose potential sales. 

Image CDNs are actually 30%+ faster than most traditional CDNs, improving site speed accordingly. From an SEO perspective, that’s huge! And your SEO gets an additional boost from the improvement to your Largest Contentful Paint scores (which can help you gain valuable rank on Google’s SERPs). Implementation is simple and fast. You get all this, plus cost savings: since you have smaller payloads because of the fully optimized images, you’re delivering fewer gigabytes of data.

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As the year begins to wind down, there are still plenty of new and evolving website design trends going strong. Much of what you’ll see this month carries over from things we’ve been seeing all year but with fresh touches.

From peek-a-boo designs with neat animated elements to vertical bars to brutalist blocks, there are a lot of highly usable trends to work with.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

Peek-a-Boo with Animation

Designers have been experimenting with cut-out and layering elements with animation for some time, which has evolved into full peek-a-boo styles with a lot of visual interest.

How each design comes together is a little different. Some have the animation in the back, others in the front, and some include text as part of the style. There’s almost no set of actual rules to how to make this design trend work.

Each of the examples below does it somewhat differently with varying degrees of success. The commonality here is that it is almost one of those visuals that you either see and love or hate.

Jatco Insurance is the most stunning example here, with a bold color choice and a peek-a-book element inside the oversized “J.” The overall effect is soothing and interesting and naturally draws the user across the screen from the top left to the background video layer. The small tagline, “Individual attention you deserve,” is perfectly placed.

Liron Moran Interiors takes a different approach with the peek-a-boo concept with the letters peeking out from behind an image. The animation is restricted to a hover and scroll effect that adds a liquid element to the image as well as changes to the image and color background. The challenge here is in readability. More of the words show on wider screens, but is it enough?

Melon Fashion also layers text and animated effects for a neat peek-a-book style that almost seems cut out from the background. The overall look appears to have three layers: background video, middle layer for the yellow color block, and text on top. The opacity of text elements with the peeking video is interesting and well pulled together without sacrificing too much readability.

Vertical Bars

Vertical color bars are a design element that keeps popping up in different ways. Designers can use it as a standalone element or container for content, such as navigation or other click actions.

Vertical elements are helpful because they can help create a more consistent and unified user experience from desktop to mobile screens. This shape can also be somewhat disruptive because you don’t see it featured that often. (Although with this style trending that might become less true over time.)

New Classrooms uses a vertical color bar on the left to help you move through the design. The color actually changes as each slide progresses on the homepage.

Serving uses multiple vertical bars as links to different content entry points. Clickability is emphasized with a change from a red overlay to a full-color image. The navigation is also tucked inside a white bar on the left side of the screen with a hamburger menu therein.

TechnoAlpin goes with a skinny vertical navigation menu on the right side of the screen. The icons with menu elements make navigation highly visual and intuitive. The color, which significantly contrasts with the rest of the design, also helps.

Brutalist Blocks

Not many people thought brutalism would stick around when it started trending. Elements of brutalism keep sneaking in, though, although they are much less stark and harsh than some of those original trending website designs.

This version of brutalism focuses on block elements that contain images or text and often click to other pages in the design. The blocks themselves are essentially the buttons that help you navigate to additional content.

The critical question about this design technique is whether this click action is intuitive enough. Will users interact without buttons?

The answer likely depends on your audience base, but if you opt for a style like this, it is essential to keep a close eye on analytics to ensure that users know and understand how to engage.

Milli Agency might be the most intuitive example of the brutalist blocks trend. The homepage is essentially a giant navigation menu. Each block changes from white to yellow on hover and expands, further encouraging clicks.

Sick Agency uses brutalist blocks with experimental typefaces and bold color for an in-your-face design. You can’t help but look at all the different things happening here. The biggest question might be, where should you focus and click next? The cursor provides some visual cues, but it’s not quite as intuitive as you might want it to be.

Mawo mixes brutalist blocks with a big blue cursor to help users click through the design to see more clothing options. Even the images here have a rather stark feel, which isn’t typical for e-commerce. Every block element above the scroll on the homepage includes a click action from the navigation blocks across the top to the “Shop Women” and “Shop Men” images. Further, the blue cursor dot helps show where users can click, and text buttons change to blue on hover as well.

Conclusion

Most of the examples here show trends as homepage elements, but you aren’t limited to that application. Try some of these techniques on landing pages or interior pages that you want to add a little something special to.

This can be an excellent way to test the design and see if your users like the style and know-how to interact with it. If it works, then you can extend the aesthetic to more of the design.

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1, 2, 3 – That’s exactly how long it takes you to start losing visitors if you have a slow-loading website.

Hold on! Surely, the only thing that matters to users is that your website works flawlessly and looks great… right? Wrong!

The fact of the matter is that we’ve all become accustomed to instant access to information and content. The average internet user today places a lot of value on speed, and the bar is continually being raised.

If you are like most people, you probably feel an immediate sense of dread at the thought of optimizing your website. Where do you start? How can you make the most impactful improvements? What makes your website slow in the first place?

Have no fear, as we’ll be answering all of your questions below as well as putting you on your way to a website that loads with blazing speed.

Why Should You Be Worried About A Slow-Loading Website?

Good question!

As many as 53% of visitors abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Even worse, 1 in 3 shoppers will leave a website if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load.

So, performance plays a huge role in the user experience of your website and whether your visitors will stay on your website or be converted into customers.

For some time, Google has been keenly aware of this fact. As a search engine, Google knows that it’s counterproductive to recommend content to users if they won’t stick around to consume it.

That’s why they’ve continually been increasing the role performance plays when ranking websites for their SERPs (search engine results pages).

In recent years, Google has introduced core web vitals. These are metrics they hope will help quantify how performance affects the user experience. In general, they measure how fast, stable, and interactive a page is while loading. This will be more important than ever after Google announced its Page Experience update, which started its global rollout in June 2021.

As you may know, ranking highly for Google is vital for your website’s visibility. For one, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, of which Google has a 92.7% market share. Even if you manage to land on the coveted first page of Google, the first five results get over 70% of all clicks (28% to the first result alone).

So, to recap why a fast loading website is so desirable:

  • It directly affects your ability to keep, satisfy, and even convert visitors to your website.
  • It impacts your search engine rankings which impacts your “findability” and organic traffic.

8 Reasons Your Site Is Slow + How to Fix Them

O.K., so now that we’re all on the same page regarding the importance of your website performance, let’s look at common issues slowing down your website + how to fix them.

1. You’re Using A Sub-Par Hosting Service

As the party responsible for making your website available to the outside world, your hosting service can be a make-or-break factor. Not only should you pick a host that has a good track record when it comes to uptime a performance, but also one that’s suitable according to your needs.

Even if you take all the steps below to optimize your website’s performance, it may still load slowly if traffic to your website is overwhelming your available bandwidth or your host’s server capacity. If that happens, some users may experience extremely slow loading times, broken features, or even complete unavailability.

For most personal, blog, or local/small business sites, a respectable hosting provider like Bluehost or GoDaddy should be good enough. However, if you plan on running any type of large-scale, high-traffic webstore, business portal, or other type of website, you’ll want premium hosting, such as WPEngine (for WordPress), VPS hosting, or even a dedicated server.

2. You’re Not Optimizing Your Media Assets

As you probably know, media like images and videos take up significantly more space than most other types of content, such as text, code, stylesheets, or other static files. Even a single image has the potential of consisting of more data than dozens of website pages containing nothing but the underlying HTML and text.

In a Speed Essentials presentation, the Google team identified images as the largest contributor to page weight. In fact, they have the potential to consume a website’s entire performance budget if left unoptimized. Images can also directly impact all three of Google’s core web vitals – key metrics Google uses to measure the performance of a website.

However, the use of images and video is likely to continue growing, heightening the importance of finding a sustainable solution. According to HTTPArchive, images have increased by 19.3% on desktop and 42.7% on mobile.

For now and the foreseeable future, optimizing your images carries the greatest potential for improving performance.

The problem is that optimizing image assets requires multiple steps. Most importantly:

  • Using the appropriate next-gen formats which can differ depending on the user’s device, OS, or browser.
  • Appropriately compressing the size and quality of images to reduce payload without affecting visual quality too badly.
  • Using the optimal display size and density based on the accessing device to reduce payloads further.
  • Using lazy loading to only load images as needed.

As you can see, manually going through these steps for every single image on your website can be extremely labor-intensive. This is especially true if you consider that you somehow need to create the optimal variants for different users based on what device, OS, or browser they are using.

In-code strategies, like a JS plugin, responsive images, or CSS media queries tend to bloat your code and lead to other performance issues we’ll discuss below.

Luckily, there are plenty of CDN services available designed specifically for providing some degree of automated image optimization. These platforms analyze the context (i.e., a specific mobile device model, OS version, and browser version) of the user trying to load one of your images and try to serve them a version of the image that’s ideally optimized for them.

However, any media optimization platforms still require installing a small JavaScript plugin to dramatically improve the image and video optimization capabilities. 

The one exception here is ImageEngine. ImageEngine uses WURFL device-detection to pick up every possible detail of the user’s device. The logic is built into their device-aware edge servers and doesn’t rely on you adding any additional code or markup to your website pages.

So, not only does it reduce your image payloads by up to 80% and serve them via a global CDN, but it doesn’t leave a footprint in your website’s code. As a bonus, it also happens to support the widest range of image/video formats, including animated GIFs, as well as client hints and save-data mode.

3. Render-Blocking JavaScript And CSS Is Delaying Page Loads

JavaScript is the de facto programming language for adding interactivity and advanced features to websites today. Likewise, CSS is the standard for adding styling. Both are critical components for almost any modern website.

However, nothing good comes free, and both may impact the performance of your website, particularly when used carelessly. 

The following are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of these assets on your website performance:

  • Minify your JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Combine a large number of JS/CSS files into fewer files.
  • Replace some of your external JS and CSS files with inline JS/CSS. (Don’t overdo this! Inline JS and CSS is only suitable for small code snippets).
  • Defer loading JavaScript until after all your content is loaded and use media queries for CSS files.

Because media can have a more significant impact on your page weight, this leads some to believe that adding more JavaScript is the lesser of two evils. 

However, depending on whether you already have render-blocking JS, Google might flag this as a completely new issue. Regardless, it will negatively impact your performance score in tools like PageSpeed Insights:

You can avoid it altogether by using an optimization engine like ImageEngine that doesn’t require any JavaScript.

4. You’re Not Using A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a network of servers spread across various regions all over the globe. What it basically does is store a copy of your website on each of these servers. When an internet user visits your site, the CDN automatically serves your website from the nearest server to that user.

What this does is allow your website to load faster, no matter where in the world people are visiting it from. If your website was only hosted on a single server, say somewhere in the U.S., then it could take much longer to load for a visitor located in Asia than one in the U.S.

While they all basically do the same thing, different CDNs are better at handling different types of content. Cloudflare, Fastly, and Akamai are just some of the most popular general-purpose CDNs around. Image CDNs like ImageEngine are purpose-built to not only serve image and video assets but to also optimize them using compression, formatting, etc.

So, the two main factors to consider are the type of content you want to deliver via the CDN and its global coverage. However, it’s usually possible to use multiple CDNs in tandem to cover different types of content and reach a wider area.

5. There’s Excessive Overhead In Your Database

If you have a website with any type of complexity, you probably have a corresponding database. In fact, all WordPress websites require a database to function.

Over the years, a lot of information moves in and out of the database. Sometimes, the data can get lost along the way or become obsolete. If you don’t regularly spring-clean your database, then this can really start to add up. Not only will it bloat the storage size of your database, but it will start to impact the speed of database queries and requests.

CMS users are especially prone to racking up these kinds of artifacts from plugins and themes that have been installed and removed over the years.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many easy fixes for this issue available. With most hosting providers, you’ll probably need to use phpMyAdmin to manually check and scrub your data. If you have a managed hosting solution, the host’s support team might be able to help you out. In the event that you have a locally installed database, there are some tools you can use, although they’re not 100% effective.

The best way to avoid any issues is to make database maintenance part of your routine and to learn the basics of how databases work.

6. You Have Too Many Plugins Or Themes Installed

For CMS users, plugins or themes offer near-limitless potential to spruce up the design and functionality of their website. However, each plugin or theme comes with additional code and content that add to the overall complexity and size of your website.

If you have a hand-coded website, the same goes for any additional applets or libraries you want to add to your site. 

The best way to combat this is to be conscientious when adding any extras to your website. Only install what you really need or want, and make sure to uninstall and properly remove them if you don’t need them anymore.

As mentioned, they might leave various transients or artifacts behind, so you should keep an eye out for them throughout your website files (not just the database) whenever you do some spring cleaning.

7. You Aren’t Utilizing Caching

Caching is often one of the most effective yet ignored techniques for improving website performance. Caching stores your website content in fast-access memory in the user’s browser, allowing it to be loaded near-instantaneously by users. This can include everything from text to stylesheets to images to JavaScript files.

Without caching, a user will need to redownload everything when they navigate to or reload a page — whether or not anything has changed.

However, not properly configuring caching on your website can lead to issues, such as users only loading out-of-date content. Most high-quality caching tools have built-in features that automatically clear the cache when you make changes to a specific website page or content. So, users will only reload content once it has been modified.

Some hosts offer out-of-the-box caching tools with their hosting service. CMS can also usually find plugins for this, such as WPRocket for WordPress.

8. Ads Are Dragging You Down

In the end, ads are just another form of media that increases the overall weight of your website pages. While they are typically small and lightweight, multiple ad placements can really start to add up.

What aggravates the issue is that ads are loaded from external sources. This means they’ll take longer to render, generate more requests, and may mess with how stable your pages load — affecting your core web vitals.

Depending on how important ads are to your revenue stream, you’ll want to carefully consider how many ads you use on your site, where to position them, and when they load. If possible, avoid loading ads at the same time as the rest of your page, especially interstitials.

Conclusion

As you can see, website performance is a multi-faceted subject. Although some may be worse than others, you can’t just address one area and expect your website to suddenly be performant.

However, some general principles apply:

  • Keep HTTP requests low by limiting the number of files required for each of your website pages.
  • Maintain proper code hygiene and spring clean transients and leftover artifacts.
  • Invest in proper hosting infrastructure as well as a CDN for your website.
  • Optimize your media assets to significantly bring down payloads without sacrificing engagement.

The final point deserves another shoutout. As we’ve pointed out, finding an optimization solution for your media, particularly images, is probably the best thing you can do to improve your website performance. From purely a performance perspective, there is no service quite as effective as ImageEngine. It’s also the one that requires the least amount of technical expertise and ongoing maintenance.

Regardless, you’ll want to run some tests using tools like PageSpeed Insights so you can gather data on what issues your website is facing. From there, you can prioritize fixes to make your website more competitive.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine –]

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Tilda website builder combines everything we liked so much about constructors when we were kids – you can experiment, test out and build myriads of new creative ideas out of ready-to-use blocks. Tilda is that type of constructor that allows you to own your creative process and create pretty much any website: landing page, business website, online store, online course with members area, blog, portfolio, or event promo page.

Founded seven years ago, Tilda is a website builder that completely revamped the way we create websites. Tilda has been the first website builder to introduce block mechanics that allows users to create websites out of pre-designed pieces. This breakthrough technology allowed all users – not only designers – to create professional-looking websites. Just like in kid constructors, you can drag-and-drop and mix-and-match blocks on Tilda to let your creativity flow and build a dazzling website, at extraordinary speed. 

When you ask designers why they love Tilda, they usually say it’s because the platform provides the ultimate balance between choosing from templates and being able to fully customize and create from scratch to bring any creative idea to life. Here’s what else they say:

Tilda has been a game-changer for us. It allows our team to quickly spin up new web pages, make edits, and ship new programs. We left WordPress for Tilda and after being with Tilda for 2 years, I don’t ever want to go back.

~ Andy Page, Executive Director, Forge.

I built my first website in 2001. Since then I’ve used countless platforms and website builders for customer websites and my own business. Tilda is the perfect combination of ease of use with powerful features at an unbeatable value.

~ Robby Fowler, Branding and Marketing Strategist, robbyf.com & The Brand ED Podcast.

Let’s dive deeper into core functionalities you can leverage on Tilda. 

#1 Cut Corners With 550+ Pre-Designed Blocks And 210+ Ready-Made Templates

The beauty of Tilda is that it provides 550+ blocks in the ever-growing Block Library designed by professional designers. Thus, you can quickly build a website out of pre-designed blocks that encompass virtually all elements you might need for your website: menu, about us page, features, contact, pricing, etc. 

Customizing each block is a breeze with Tilda: You can drag-and-drop images, edit text right in the layout, alter block height, background color, padding, select the style of buttons, use custom fonts, and assign ready-made animation effects to specific parts of it. Also, Tilda provides a built-in free image library with 600K+ images, so you can find images that are just right for you without leaving Tilda, add them to your website with just one click, and use them for free.

Finally, all blocks fit together so well that it’s almost impossible to create a bad design on Tilda – even if you are a stranger to website building.

For a quick take-off, you can use 210+ ready-made templates for different kinds of websites and projects: online stores, landing pages, webinar promo pages, multimedia articles, blogs, and more. Each template is a sample of modern web design and consists of blocks. It means that templates don’t limit your creativity: you can modify them to your liking by playing with settings, adding extra or removing existing blocks, and embedding images and text. 

Each of the templates and blocks covers over 90% of use cases you’ll ever require and is mobile-ready, meaning that your website will look great on desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones by default.

#2 Jazz Up Your Site With Zero Block: Professional Editor For Web Designers 

To better meet the demands of a creative brief and unleash your creativity, you can use Tilda’s secret weapon called Zero Block. It is a tool for creating uniquely designed blocks on Tilda.

You can control each element of the block, including text, image, button, or background, and decide on their position, size, and screen resolution on which they’ll appear. For example, you can work with layers to create depth with overlay and opacity techniques or set a transparency level on any element and shadow effects below them. Additionally, you can also insert HTML code to add more complex elements, such as calendars, paywall, comments, social media posts, and so much more.  

Finally, Zero Block allows you to fool around with basic and more advanced step-by-step animation for a more individual look. Here’re some animation examples that you can make on Tilda:

Animation on scroll (position of elements is changing on scroll).

Trigger animation (animation is triggered when pointing at or clicking on an object).

Infinite scrolling text.

#3 Import Designs From Figma To Tilda In Minutes

Creators love using Figma for prototyping, but when you have to transfer every element and rebuild your website design from scratch – that’s what’s killing the party. With Tilda, you can easily turn your static designs into an interactive website in no time. 

All it takes is to prepare your Figma design for import with a few easy steps, paste the Figma API token and your layout URL to Tilda, click import and let the magic happen. Once your design is imported, you can bring your project online just by clicking publish.

#4. Make Search Engines Love Your Website With Built-In SEO Optimization

Thanks to the consecutive positioning of blocks on the page, websites designed on Tilda are automatically indexed well by search engines. There is also a set of SEO parameters you can fine-tune right inside the platform to ensure that your web pages rank high even if you don’t have an SEO specialist in-house. These parameters include the title tag, description and keywords meta tags, reader-friendly URLs, H1, H2, and H3 header tags, alt text for images, and easily customizable social media snippets. 

As an additional value, Tilda provides an SEO Assistant that will show you what errors are affecting the indexing of your website and will help test the website for compliance with the search engines’ main recommendations.

#5. Turn Visitors Into Clients

Tilda gives you the power to set up data capture forms and integrate them with 20+ data capture services, such as Google Sheets, Trello, Notion, Salesforce, Monday.com, etc., to ensure seamless lead generation.

For more fun, Tilda developed its CRM to manage your leads better and keep your business organized right inside of a website builder. This is a very easy-to-use tool that automatically adds leads from forms and allows you to manually add leads you captured outside of the website. There is a kanban board that gives you an overall view of how leads are moving through your sales funnel and allows you to move leads between stages easily.

#6. Build A Powerful Online Store In One Day

Tilda provides a set of convenient features to create a remarkable online shopping experience. The platform gives you the power to sell online using ready-made templates or build an online store completely from scratch, add a shopping cart and connect a payment system of choice — Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout, etc. — to accept online payments in any currency.

If you are looking to run a large ecommerce business, you should also consider Tilda. Thanks to the built-in Product Catalog, you can add up to 5000 items, import and export products in CSV files, easily manage stock, orders, and keep track of store stats.

And thanks to adaptive design, your store will look good across all devices, including tablets and smartphones. 

#7. Bring Your Project Online For Free

Tilda offers three subscription plans: Free, Personal ($10/month with annual subscription), and Business ($20/month with annual subscription). When you sign up for Tilda, you get a lifetime free account. It allows you to publish a website with a free subdomain and gives you access to a selection of blocks and a limited number of features that offer enough to create an impressive website. 

Personal and Business tariffs allow more advanced options, such as connecting custom domains, adding HTML code, receiving payments, and embedding data collection forms. The business plan also allows users to export their website and create five websites (while personal and free plans allow one website per account). 

To discover all features and templates on Tilda, activate a two-week free trial – no credit card required.

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There are some spook-tacular finds in this month’s October collection of resources and tools for designers and developers. From interesting tools that can help in the design process to boo-tiful typefaces, there’s something for everyone here.

Here’s what is new for designers this month…

Atropos

Atropos is a lightweight, open-source JavaScript library to create touch-friendly, three-dimensional hover effects. The results are stunning and have a nice parallax style. Everything is highly configurable and customizable. It’s available for JavaScript, React, and Vue.js and has zero dependencies.

CSS Gradient Editor

CSS Gradient Editor helps you create the perfect gradient style – you can start from presets – that you can use in projects. Design a background, fill, or almost any other gradient element you might need, make adjustments or customizations, and then get the CSS with one click so you can use it right away.

Octopus.do

Octopus.do is a fast visual sitemap builder that lets you work in real-time using the content brick method. Share and collaborate in real-time and there’s no signup required to use it.

Pirsch Analytics

Pirsch Analytics is a privacy-friendly, open-source alternative to Google Analytics — lightweight, cookie-free, and easily integrated into any website or directly into your backend. It includes filters to see metrics in the way you want and light and dark modes.

Basic Pattern Repository

Basic Pattern Repository is a collection of simple SVG patterns for projects. Everything is rooted in a simple style to help push projects along quicker. You can get it via GitHub or as a Figma Library.

Blobr

Blobr is a way to get a branded API portal, manage access, and monitor usage all in one place. Customize everything to fit your brand and the tool grows as you do with the ability to increase or change capacity. Plus, it is easy to set up and free to use.

HEXplorer

HEXplorer helps you better understand something you use all the time – HEX colors. This pen by Rob DiMarzo shows how the values for different colors come together to provide greater comprehension when it comes to this color format.

CCCreate

CCCreate is a curated collection of tools and resources for web creators. It includes some tools that have been around for a while as well as some newbies. Everything is grouped and sorted by type of resources – color, icons, type, layouts, animation, shapes, docs, and miscellaneous so you can find what you are looking for faster.

Glass

Glass is a photo-sharing app for photographers. It’s a social network of sorts that lets you share images with the greater photography community without “likes.” Just great images.

Revolt

Revolt is a chat app that’s still in beta and designed for easy communication without having to download apps. It’s an open-source project that is customizable and with an intuitive and recognizable interface. The thing that’s different about this app is that it is built on a privacy-first model.

Doodle Ipsum

Doodle Ipsum is the illustrated version of placeholder elements. Customize your doodles, grab the code, and use them on your web prototypes, landing pages, or no-code tools.

Mechanic

Mechanic is an open-source framework that helps you create custom, web-based tools that export design assets in your browser. The best part is you can try it right on screen using the “poster generator.” If you like what you see, there’s plenty of documentation to help you along the way.

Medio Website Template

Medio is an agency-style website design template for Bootstrap 5. The layout is perfect for a design agency or marketing group but can be adjusted for almost any multi-purpose design. The free template includes a minimal design and includes features such as parallax, popup video, and more.

Tutorial: Simplifying Form Styles with Accent Color

This tutorial is a life-saver when it comes to using and understanding the new CSS accent-color property. This quick lesson will help make your life easier and is simple to use. It starts with setting an accent-color property on the root element and then applying it.

Houdini.how

Houdini.how is a worklet library that is full of CSS and code examples to help you work smarter. See how different elements look cross-browser and learn to adjust the code and put them together in just the way you want. Houdini is a set of low-level APIs that exposes parts of the CSS engine, giving developers the power to extend CSS by hooking into the styling and layout process of a browser’s rendering engine.

Chainstarters

Chainstarters is a powerful, rapid, Web3-enabled platform for software developers. It eliminates the burden of setting up and maintaining a secure and scalable infrastructure, allowing you to focus on creating amazing technology.

Web Vitals Robot

Web Vitals Robot is a search optimization tool that monitors SEO metrics for you – so you can prevent your business from disappearing from Google.

Searchable

Searchable is a unified search tool that looks at local, cloud storage, and apps to find the files you are looking for. It returns results in a jiffy with previews so you don’t have to open every file to find what you are looking for.

Athlone

Athlone is a fun serif with lots of personality. The free demo version includes a limited character set for personal use only and the full version has everything you need for fun display or branding with this typeface.

Capitana

Capitana is a Geometric Sans typeface with humanistic proportions and open apertures. This means that all shapes are constructed from basic forms, the circle, triangle, and square, and are designed according to the classic proportions of the Roman Antiqua. Distinct ascenders and pointed apexes with deep overshoot give it a cool beauty and classic elegance. It includes 784 characters per style in nine weights from Thin to Black, it offers both light and extremely heavy weights for striking headlines.

Colours

Colours is a funky script with just enough texture to keep it interesting. The free version includes a partial character set and is for personal use only.

Flexible

Flexible is a variable typeface that includes 18 styles in the family. It’s made for creativity and display use. This typeface is made for experimenting because there are so many things you can do with this single family.

Singo Sans Serif

Singo Sans Serif is a simple and strong typeface that would make an excellent display option. The free version is for personal use only. Fun fact: Singo means Lion in Indonesia, which is where the name of this strong font comes from.

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PageSpeed Insights is a free performance measurement tool provided by Google. It analyzes the contents of a web page for desktop and mobile devices. It provides a single number score (from 1 to 100) that summarizes several underlying metrics that measure performance. If you have not run PageSpeed Insights on your website, then you should stop and do it now. It’s an important indicator of how Google scores and ranks your site.

If your PageSpeed Insights score is below 80, don’t panic. You are not alone. Many websites are not optimized for performance. The good news is that you can take steps that should immediately improve your score.

You will notice that PageSpeed Insights highlights issues that cause slow page loading. However, you might need more guidance to resolve these issues. Below, we walk you through how to resolve four common issues related to images. We also show you how ImageEngine, an image CDN, can simplify, automate, and deliver the best image optimization solution possible.

Performance Drives Google SEO Rankings

Why does the PageSpeed Insights score and performance matter? Isn’t SEO ranking all about content relevance, backlinks, and domain authority? Yes, but now performance matters more than it did a year ago. Starting in 2021, Google added performance metrics to the factors that impact search engine rankings. In a market where websites are constantly jockeying to match their competition’s pages (for content relevance, keywords, and other SEO issues), performance is making a difference in keyword search engine rankings.

What Are Core Web Vitals Metrics?

PageSpeed Insights relies on a set of performance metrics called Core Web Vitals. These metrics are:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures the render time (in seconds) of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading. Typically, the largest image is the hero image at the top of pages.

First Input Delay (FID): Measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or use a custom JavaScript-powered control) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures the layout shift that occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next.

Images and JavaScript are the Main Culprits

PageSpeed Insights breaks down problems into categories based upon how they impact these Core Web Vitals metrics. The top two reasons why you might have a low score are driven by JavaScript and images.

JavaScript issues are usually related to code that either blocks or delays page loading. For example, lazy-loading images might involve JavaScript that blocks loading. As a rule of thumb, do not use a third-party JavaScript library to manage image loading. These libraries frequently break the browser’s built-in image loading features. Lazy-loading may make above-the-fold images load slower (longer LCP) because the browser starts the download later and because the browser first has to execute the JavaScript.

Another JavaScript issue involves code that is large or unnecessary for the page. In other words, code bloat. There are good resources for resolving these issues on the web. However, in this blog, we will focus on image problems.

Images are a major contributor to poor performance. The average website payload is 2MB in 2021, and 50% of that is images. Frequently, images are larger than they need to be and can be optimized for size with no impact on quality…if you do it right.

Four Image Issues Highlighted by PageSpeed Insights

Largest Contentful Paint is the primary metric impacted by images. PageSpeed Insights frequently recommends the following four pieces of advice:

  1. Serve images in next-gen formats.
  2. Efficiently encode images.
  3. Properly size images.
  4. Avoid enormous network payloads.

That advice seems straightforward. Google provides some great advice on how to deal with images in its dev community. It can be summarized in the following steps:

  • Select the appropriate file format.
  • Apply the appropriate image compression.
  • Apply the right display size.
  • Render the image.
  • Write responsive image code to select the right variant of the image.

We call Google’s process the “Build-Time Responsive Syntax” approach. If you have a relatively static website where you don’t generate new pages or switch out images frequently, then you can probably live with this approach. However, if you have a large and dynamic site with many images, then you will quickly feel the pain of this approach. Google itself stresses that developers should seek to automate this image process. Why? Because the process has some serious workflow drawbacks:

  • Adds storage requirements due to a large increase in image variants.
  • Increases code bloat and introduces more code complexity.
  • Requires developers’ time and effort to create variants and implement responsiveness.
  • Requires logic to account for different browser’s support for next-gen image formats.
  • Doesn’t adapt to different contexts. It relies on best-guess (breakpoints) of what device visits the web page.
  • Needs a separate CDN to further increase delivery speeds.
  • Requires ongoing maintenance to adapt to new devices, breakpoints, image formats, markets, and practices.

Key Steps to Achieving High-Performance Images

Instead of using the Build-Time Responsive Syntax approach, an automated image CDN solution can address all of the image issues raised by PageSpeed Insights. The key steps of an image CDN that you should look for are:

  1. Detect Mobile Devices: Detection of a website visitor’s device model and its technical capabilities. These include: OS version, browser version, screen pixel density, screen resolution width and height, support for next-gen image and video formats. This is where ImageEngine is unique in the market. ImageEngine uses true mobile device detection to further improve image optimization. It has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the image optimization process.
  2. Optimize Images: An image CDN will leverage the device’s parameters to automatically resize, compress and convert large original images into optimized images with next-generation file formats, like WebP and AVIF. Frequently, an image CDN like ImageEngine will reduce the image payload by up to 80%.
  3. Deliver by CDN: Image CDNs like ImageEngine have edge servers strategically positioned around the globe. By pushing optimized images closer to requesting customers and delivering them immediately from the cache, it often provides a 50% faster web page download time than traditional CDNs.

Easy Integration Process for Image CDN

After signing up for an ImageEngine account and free trial, you will receive a Delivery Address. After adjusting your <img /> elements to include the Delivery Address, ImageEngine will start to pull the original images from your website (no need to move or upload them), automatically optimize them, and deliver them.

You can automate the addition of the Delivery Address to the img src tag by using plug-ins for WordPress and Magento. Developers can also use ImageEngine’s React, Vue, or Angular JavaScript frameworks to simplify the process.

Additionally, there are many ways to simplify implementation via adjustments to templates for many CMS and eCommerce platforms.

Results: Improved Performance, Better SEO

Most ImageEngine users see a huge improvement in LCP metrics, and consequently, a big improvement in the overall PageSpeed Insights score. ImageEngine provides a free demo analysis of your images before and after image optimization. In many cases, developers see improvements of many seconds on their LCP and Speed Index.

In summary, performance drives higher search rankings, and better UX, and increases website conversions for eCommerce. The steps you take to improve your image performance will pay for themselves in more sales and conversions, streamlined workflow, and lower CDN delivery costs.

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